Sagar Khakurel © AFP (File Photo)
By Abhijit Banare
Mar 20, 2014
Opener Subash Khakurel‘s career-best T20 score of 56 from 53 balls helped Nepal post 141 for five in 20 overs against Afghanistan in the first round of the ICC World T20 2014 Group A match at Chittagong on Thursday. The Afghans had firm control over the match at the start striking at regular intervals, but the 76-run stand between Khakurel and Sharad Vesawkar in 55 balls gave the much needed boost towards the end.
Afghanistan had won the toss and elected to field. Even in the match against Hong Kong, it turned out to be beneficial for the AFghans to chase with some power-hitters in the ranks.. With the bowl, the two pacers, Dawlat Zadran and Shapoor Zadran kept a tight leash on the batsmen. Sagar Pun broke the series of dot balls with well-timed shot over point for the first boundary of the innings. But the openers failed to secure a momentum. There was some bounce on offer early on which made things difficult for the batsmen. Sagar made an effort to hit some big ones but eventually fell in the fourth over to Dawlat Zadran for eight. One would have expected the skipper and in-form batsman Paras Khadka to bat up but Gyanendra Malla walked in. In the space of eight deliveries, Malla and Khakurel smashed 26 runs through five boundaries and a six. 18 of those came from one over of Samiullah Shenwari.
But such enterprising shots was always going to offer some chance for the Afghans and Malla’s cameo of 22 from 13 balls came to an end when he was caught by Nawroz Mangal off Mohammad Nabi. The big blow came in the next over of Mirwais Ashraf, playing his first match of the tournament. Skipper Paras Khadka who tried to play across the line and and was bowled of a thick edge.
It was once again a dry phase for the Nepal till the 14th over, but Khakurel hung on and kept the runs coming through singles along with Sharad Vesawkar. Khakurel once again targeted Shenwari smashing a boundary and a six in consecutive deliveries. In the 16th over, Vesawkar broke loose smashing three boundaries of Nabi’s over.
Afghanistan looked unsettled towards the end and allowed the two batsmen two get underneath the ball and go for wild swings. Khakurel who had spend enough time on the crease added more frustration for the Afghans hitting two more boundaries in the next over by Dawlat Zadran.
It was Shapoor who came back to remove the wickets of Khakurel and Vesawkar in aspace of three deliveries. Khakurel heaved one in the air and was caught at deep mid-wicket while Vesawkar was done in by a short ball.
Nabi was brave enough to bowl the last over and kept it tight. Nepal managed 141 and after the innings, Khakurel said that it was a good score and ;ooked confident of the bowlers defending it.
Nepal 141 for 5 in 20 overs (Subash Khakurel 56; Shapoor Zadran 2 for 19) vs Afghanistan.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)